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TV4 Media continues rights drive with long-term LaLiga deal

Sweden's Alexander Isak of Real Sociedad controls the ball against Barcelona at Camp Nou on March 07, 2020 (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Swedish telecoms operator Telia has followed up its acquisition of Uefa Champions League rights with a five-season extension to its LaLiga broadcast rights agreement.

The new exclusive deal covers rights to the Spanish top flight in both Sweden and Finland and runs from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Telia owns TV4 Media (formerly Bonnier Broadcasting), the holding group which includes pay-television broadcaster C More and commercial broadcaster TV4 in Sweden, and pay-television broadcaster MTV3 in Finland.

The LaLiga deal is the second major sports acquisition that Telia has agreed since its takeover of TV4 Media was approved by the European Commission on December 2 last year. Telia initially announced the acquisition of TV4 Media in July 2018, but the deal was subject to a EU Competition Authority review.

Bonnier acquired the LaLiga rights from the IMG agency in a two-year deal covering the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. IMG’s on-sale of rights ended the operation of its OTT platform Strive in the country.

Casten Almqvist, chief executive of TV4 Media, said today (Monday): “Following the acquisition of the Uefa Champions League, LaLiga is another very important element in our strong offering of world class football.

“The interest in LaLiga has been growing substantially this season and that’s no surprise when you look at the teams and the players. Spanish teams have won the Uefa Champions League five out of the last six seasons. Swedish star Alexander Isak’s breakthrough in Real Sociedad plays a big part as well. I´m sure his performance will make the interest among our users in Sweden grow even further.”

The deal is the latest five-year LaLiga rights agreement that has been announced since LaLiga was given authorisation to sell future broadcast rights in Europe for more than three seasons in amends made to the Royal Decree that governs the sale of centralised rights.

Similar five-year accords have been announced in recent weeks in Denmark (TV2), Norway (TV2) and in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (Saran Media).

In February, LaLiga issued an invitation to tender for the top-tier LaLiga and second-tier LaLiga Smartbank covering 16 territories, including Sweden. The first-round bid deadline was March 16 with LaLiga working with the Barcelona-headquartered Mediapro agency during the tender process.

Successful bidders are required to broadcast a minimum of three live matches per first division match week and weekly broadcasts of LaLiga’s highlights and magazine shows. LaLiga also required that a minimum of one second-division match be broadcast per matchweek as well as its equivalent highlights show.

Telia has been on a rights acquisition drive since losing out to Nordic Entertainment (Nent) Group on a host of sports rights as well as missing out on renewing key rights in both Sweden (domestic top-tier football league, the Allsvenskan) and Finland (Formula 1).

Telia was among the bidders for the English Premier League rights when the league went to tender earlier this year, however these were awarded to Nent in a landmark six-season deal.

It was, however, able to renew rights to Sweden’s second-tier ice hockey league, the HockeyAllsvenskan, last year for five more seasons, until 2025-26. TV4 Media and C More also hold rights to Italy’s Serie A, Major League Soccer and the men’s and women’s Swedish Cup.